Abstract

The Gyeongbu Highway, which connects Seoul and Busan in South Korea, symbolizes the ways in which the nation's agendas of industrialization, modernization, and unification were imagined, implemented, and challenged from the 1960s to the present. Without much public support for the highway construction project, President Park Chung Hee wanted to build it as expeditiously and inexpensively as possible, associating it with a fight against North Korean communism. Under these constraints, Korean civil engineers struggled to make the highway signify Korea's future as a modernized and unified nation. As deficiencies due to rush construction were revealed and as the political landscape changed, however, the linkage between glorious modernization and the rugged road became precarious, despite the engineers' continuous work to maintain both pavement and symbolism. As a contested artifact with changing meanings, the Gyeongbu Highway posed questions about the politics of engineering and the engineering of politics in South Korea.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 55-79
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-06
Open Access
No
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